Jeff Capel's Next Big Challege: Defeat a Legendary Coach in the Tournament

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, AL - MARCH 23: Head Coach  Jeff Capel of the Oklahoma Sooners walks off the court following a 78-48 loss to Louisville in the second round of the East Regional as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center on March 23, 2008 in Birmingham, Alabama.  (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

Capel has been amazing in his coaching career thus far.

While OU was by no means devoid of history before his arrival. He has managed to remove all stains left on the program by Kelvin Sampson in just three short years and is giving all Duke fans hope that they have a talented coaching replacement waiting in the wings.

While he has yet to win a Big 12 conference championship, he has proved two things: He can recruit and he can coach. He has managed to pull a Macdonald's All-American the last two years and for those who say he is not a good recruiter and had Blake Griffin gift-wrapped for him, he has two more All-Americans coming next year in Tommy Mason-Griffin and and Keith Gallon.

Obviously, he can coach as well. Villanova's Scottie Reynolds and Texas' Damien James both decommited from OU after his hiring. Losing most of the initial recruiting class did not phase him much as he posted winning seasons in all three of his years despite losing an immense amount of talent the second he walked through the door.

This season he was 25-1 before the Griffin injury and poorly coached teams do not go 25-1 no matter how much talent they have. Yes, Griffin may be making him look better, but their is no doubt he is talented.

He has also showed he can discipline by kicking two players off the team this season, one late in the season, and sitting down starters like Willie Warren or suspending the No. 3 post Juan Patillo in important games down the stretch despite what it may have done to the team's chemistry.

But now it is time for his next big step to improving his resume beating legendary coaches and teams in the NCAA Tournament.  Last year, he met Louisville and Pitino and it was an ugly blowout, but they were the lesser team and it showed. This year, the Sooners get Boeheim and Syracuse and should be the favorite to win at tip-off. 

So, is a great young coaching star ready to take his next big step?  OU may be a year away from being a championship team, but Capel does not have that luxury.  There is a good chance that Blake is gone next year and Willie Warren may leave early as well. So, as a coach you have to look at this as your best opportunity to win it all. 

Capel can learn a lot from Boeheim. Though T.J. Ford was the player of the year in 2003, their is little doubt that Carmelo Anthony was the best player in the tournament and Carmelo was the difference in game after game for Syracuse.

So Capel can use Boeheim's model of having the best player in the tournament and utilizing him properly to win it all.

I certainly hope OU does win in order to set up a match-up with the Player of the Year to be and the current reigning POY between Blake and Tyler in the next round.

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